I love old maps. I like knowing that I can pinpoint an exact location for my ancestors at a specific time. But maps for Russell County can be frustrating because of the changes that took place after the Wolf Creek Dam turned the Cumberland River into Lake Cumberland in Russell and Wayne County. It is difficult to find a detailed map of Russell County before the dam was built.
Wolf Creek Dam was built for flood control but also generates hydroelectricity. Construction was started in 1941, but WWII contributed to a delay, so the dam was not completed until 1951.
As a result of the dam, many towns, cemeteries and farms now lie beneath the lake. To see how Russell County looked before the dam, you need to find a map from before 1951. It is not difficult to find a state map of Kentucky before this time, but finding a detailed map of Russell County is difficult.
Several of my ancestors did own land that is now beneath the lake. About a year ago, my husband and I took a vacation to Lake Cumberland and while on a rented houseboat, I fell in love with a map of the Lake that they had on the wall. It not only had the entire Lake and the land on each side, but if you looked closely at the map of the Lake itself, you could see light lines showing the location of the original river and the creeks that no longer exist. I was able to use that information to draw a map of exactly where my ancestor’s land used to be. I loved the map so much that my husband got me a copy for Christmas (2 sided, laminated, 25 x 38) to keep on the wall of my office.
You can order your own copy here. But let’s look at some historic maps. I tried not to include maps with identical looks, but maps with a different perspective or that were a little difficult to find.
Note: You can always right click to save the images, but those will be thumbnails that I took for the blog. To get the full sized image, click on the links in blue.
The First Map!
Kentucky became a state in 1792 and while Russell County hadn’t yet been formed, you can still see the area with the River and creeks labeled. This map was created in 1793 and can be found on the Library of Congress website.
Military District in Kentucky
Do you have ancestors who found in the Revolutionary War? Did you know that Russell County was part of the Military district which was reserved for Revolutionary War Bounty Land Warrants issued by Virginia?
Wondering how your ancestor might have gotten to Kentucky? Here’s a map of the pioneer roads used in this area.
Plat maps and surveys
1819 – Plat map for Creelsboro/Creelsborough surveyed the 22nd and 23rd of April 1819, but included in the Russell County Court orders in 1826. Click here.
1826 – Want to see the original plat map for Jamestown? Click here. See the next page in the Court Orders book for an explanation of the map.
1847 – Plat map of Lairsville surveyed for William D Lair on the north bank of the Cumberland River above the mouth of Rock Run. Click here. Surveyed June 8, 1847, but included in the Court Orders v.1. Haven’t ever seen Lairsville on a map? Check out the 1891 Railroad Map below.
1850 – Survey of the boundary line between the meeting points of Russell, Casey and Pulaski Counties (see the previous page for an explanation of points A – K). Click here.
County Border Changes
Russell County was formed in 1826 from portions of Adair, Cumberland and Wayne Counties. Russell County gained another small portion from Pulaski County in early 1840, but there are an awful lot of maps that don’t show this boundary change, so be aware that if your ancestors lived in this new portion, you may want to check out some maps for Pulaski County. See the boundaries change over time at the Newberry Library’s Atlas of Historical Boundary Changes.
16 Dec, 1939
1 March, 1840
Map of Kentucky & Tennessee exhibiting the post offices, post roads, canals, rail roads, &c. found on the Library of Congress website. Not a lot to see in Russell County, but I think it’s interesting to look at the roads and then see what the map legend says. A “sulkey” by the way is a light two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle for one person, used chiefly in harness racing. Yes, I had to Google that. I’m guessing there wasn’t a lot of harness racing going on here in 1839, but it gives an idea about the size of the road.
Lloyd’s official map of the state of Kentucky compiled from actual surveys and official documents, showing every rail road & rail road station with the distances between each station. Also the counties and county seats, cities, towns, villages, post offices, wagon roads, canals, forts fortifications &c. (Whew! That’s a mouthful of a title!) I like how this map shows the “mountainous” areas. I also like that it labels “Long Bottom” and “Greens Bott’m”. I don’t see those labeled on maps very often.
Found on the Library of Congress site. Click here.
Military map of the States of Kentucky and Tennessee. If you read the description details on the Library of Congress website, it says that there is a “Handwritten note on the verso reads “Full of errors-worthless so far as the 5 northern counties are concerned. F. Walley Perkins AC&GS.” Not sure if that refers to counties in Kentucky or in Tennessee.
As far as the Russell County area goes, the red road from Monticello to Jamestown indicates that it is an “Improved Turnpike & Stage Road”. Notice how close Jamestown is to Mill Springs. There was a Civil War battle here on Jan. 19, 1862. Perhaps your ancestor participated? Read about the Battle of Mill Springs here. See a map of the battle plan here. There was also a battle at Horse Shoe Bottom – but I’d better save something for my Russell County Military Resources post yet to come…
Preliminary map of Kentucky 1891. Prepared for the Kentucky railroad commissioners by the Kentucky Geological Survey found on the Library of Congress website. No railroads shown going through Russell County, but this map has the various creeks in Russell County well marked. This is a state map, but the detail is awesome even when zoomed in!
I have a map that I copied from somewhere when I first started doing genealogy research yeeeeaaaaarrrrrsss ago. Being a newbie, I neglected to write down where it came from. But it is very similar to the 1900 ED map (scroll down to see the ED maps), I’m going to guess that the date is also around 1900. I have kept this map on the bulletin board in my office and I refer to it all the time. I like it’s simplicity. To save this map to your computer, right click on the image and select “Save image as…” from the pop-up menu.
Update: I found the map on the FamilySearch site along with maps just like this for every county in Kentucky. The title page for this section of the film says “Kentucky Post Offices 1813 Clift” but I know that can’t apply to these maps because Russell County wasn’t created until 1826. But the maps are great anyway! Click here.
Here is map of Russell County published in 1911. I find this map interesting because the shape of the county still shows the pre-1840 boundary, but it is very helpful for easily viewing the names of many of the towns in the county.
Click on the link and be sure to use the “Invert” button under tools so that it doesn’t look like an X-ray. Many towns on here I don’t see on other maps!
Click here. (There are 4 images for this map, but really don’t need them all.)
There is a state map from 1929 which is easy to zoom in on. Towns in Russell County include Decatur, Font Hill, Brady, Russell Springs, Eller, Sunshine, Jabez, Jamestown, Denmark, Horseshoe Bottom, Rowena, Olga and Creelsboro. It’s also nice to see some of the towns in surrounding counties that are right on the border.
Download your own PDF here.
There is one map for Russell County from 1937. It is very detailed and includes lots of icons showing every farm, house, hotel, school, church and cemetery – which is wonderful, BUT a bit difficult to read.
Click here to download this map in PDF format.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has a series of archived County Road maps available on their website which you can access by clicking here. You can click through every county to see which years are available for a map.
Another state map from 1939 has fewer cities, but more accurate county boundary lines. The names of the creeks south of the Cumberland River are also included. Towns include Font Hill, Russell Springs, Jamestown, Freedom, Creelsboro and Rowena.
Download a PDF here.
I have searched for these maps forever! Finally had some success! Want to see which part of the county was Precinct #3 in the census records? These are the maps for you!
1900 – I don’t see any district lines here, but it’s included in the series. I do see some numbers in circles. Some towns I don’t recall seeing on other maps other than the Quadrangle maps – Royalton, Wesley, Stokes, Palace. This map is very similar to the unsourced map I included above for 1900.
1910 – Have to chuckle that at the bottom of this map it say “Approximately correct”.
1920 – This looks like the 1911 map which makes me wonder if there are people enumerated in this census that were actually from Casey County?
1930 – This map is like a vision test. Imagine you have a dirty paper and you use an eraser to write your labels. Gotta look closely! The number “3” in the very middle of the map is the type of thing you are looking for. If you have a hard time seeing it, play around with the brightness levels (Adjust levels) in the tools in the upper right corner.
1940 – the map is larger than one sheet, so see images 183-186. (Although a little irritating because I think they could have centered the image and got just about the whole thing if you don’t care about the margins!) And I gotta say, this map is pretty darn good for seeing all the towns even if you don’t pay any attention to the district boundary lines!
1950 – This census isn’t available to the public yet, but the enumeration map is! This is the 1937 map listed above, but with the enumeration boundaries added in.
1953/54 Topographical maps
I also enjoy looking at topographical maps. Those are the maps with all of the wavy lines showing how flat or steep the land in the area is. The closer together the lines are, the steeper the land in that area. I am in awe of the hard work that our ancestors put into running farms on such hilly land.
Topographical maps are quite large (48 x 57!) – which means you can see a lot of information, but they are difficult to print. They are available to download for free and you can zoom in quite well to look at a specific area – if you know which area you want to zoom in to! In the past, I have been able to find topographic maps for portions of Russell County, but I was never able to understand how to find the map of the part of Russell County that I specifically was looking for. I have finally had some luck in doing that!
These maps are from 1953/1954 which means they include Lake Cumberland, but none the less, they are wonderful. I have put together an image showing which topo map goes with each section of the county along with links to each map. I’ve also tried to make a list of which towns are shown on each map. Towns with an * are visible on the 1911 map above, but not the topo maps. Towns with a ** are now beneath the Lake. I’m sure I’ve missed some towns, but I think I’ve found most of them! I hope you find these maps helpful to your research!
- Dunnville Quadrangle
- Montpelier Quadrangle
- Russell Springs Quadrangle – Bechorn Ridge, Decatur, Eller, Esto, Fonthill, Horntown, Humble, Jericho, Middletown, Poplar Grove, Russell Springs (Big Boiling Springs, Kimble), Royville, Salem, Webs Cross Roads
- Eli Quadrangle – Avis*, Brady, Dallo, Eli, Happy Acre, Hammond Store, Irvins Store, Royalton, Salem, Sunshne*, Whittle
- Faubush Quadrangle – Sandy Hollow, Vinnie
- Amanadaville Quadrangle
- Creelsboro Quadrangle – Bryan, Creelsboro, Denmark, Gum Corners, Helm, Long Bottom, Old Olga, Olga, Owensby, Ribbon
- Jamestown Quadrangle – Apple Valley, Clyde, Effie*, Freedom, Helm*, Horseshoe Bottom**, Jamestown, Karlus, Lula**, Lulu (Bugtown), Nelson’s Mill, Owensby, Rose Crossroads, Rowena, Sewellton, Wesley*
- Jabez Quadrangle – Bart, Dell*, Jabez, Jay, Ono, Palace*
- Mill Springs Quadrangle
- Wolf Creek Dam Quadrangle
- Cumberland Quadrangle – Kendall*, Ucum*
If you have an ancestor that you’ve located in the 1900-1940 Russell County census records, then you may have noticed that on many of the pages, in the far left column, the numerator has written the name of the road your ancestor lived on. Not sure where that road is located? Then these are the maps for you.
I know you probably can’t read everything here, but the text is a list of the rural roads in the county along with a number and a “battleship game” type of code to help you locate it on the map. Get your magnifying glass for this one!
Add this to your collection by clicking here.
Finding that one a little hard to read? Try this version from 1996. Nicely divided into 4 quadrants with the list of roads on a separate page, making it easier to read.
Or this version from 2005. Even easier to read because each quadrant gets a page of it’s own!
And finally, here’s a link to a Gazatteer on the Kentucky.gov web site. It says it “lists county information for more than 1000 place names identified in early Kentucky patents.”